No. 19 SMU, Tulsa to meet in AAC showdown

No. 19 SMU (7-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) at Tulsa (3-1, 3-0), Saturday at 7 p.m. EST (ESPN2).

Line: Tulsa by 2 1/2.

Series record: SMU leads 15-11.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Tulsa looks to strengthen its position in the AAC and crack the Top 25. A win over No. 19 SMU would likely accomplish both goals. Tulsa has been solid all season, but the Golden Hurricane have had four games moved because of COVID-19 issues, robbing them of chances to gain momentum. SMU has posted one of its best seasons in decades, but the Mustangs can’t afford to stumble with Tulsa and Cincinnati entering the weekend unbeaten in league play.

KEY MATCHUP

SMU QB Shane Buechele vs. Tulsa pass defense. Buechele leads the nation with 2.581 yards passing, and he’s ninth in yards passing per game. Tulsa allows 246.5 yards per game in the air, but ranks 34th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Buechele passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns in SMU’s 43-37 win last season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

SMU: RB Ulysses Bentley IV. The freshman is one of the nation’s most productive running backs. He ranks fifth in the nation with 774 yards rushing and is tied for fifth nationally with 10 rushing touchdowns. If SMU has success running early, it will be more difficult for the Golden Hurricane to contain Buechele and SMU’s passing attack.

Tulsa: LB Zaven Collins. He has been named AAC defensive player of the week twice in four games. He had 10 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for loss and two pass breakups against Central Florida and an interception return for a touchdown and a forced fumble against South Florida.

FACTS & FIGURES

Tulsa is playing just its second home game of the season. Its first came on Oct. 30 against East Carolina. … Tulsa has rallied from double-digit deficits to beat Central Florida and East Carolina. … SMU has eight road wins since the start of the 2019 season. … SMU ranks ninth nationally with 526.3 yards per game.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

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